Press Release

Rodriguez, Cuellar Bill Takes Aim at Illegal Gun Smuggling

ATF Statistics Show That 90% of Guns Seized in Mexico Come From U.S.

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Washington, April 23, 2008 | comments

         Contact: Yolanda C. Urrabazo
Press Secretary (Cuellar)

Contact: Josh Rosenblum
Press Secretary (Rodriguez)

Congressman Henry Cuellar (TX-28),  Chairman of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emergency Communications, Preparedness, and Response, Congressman Ciro D. Rodriguez (TX-23), a member of the House Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, and several others today introduced legislation aimed at reducing border violence by cracking down on illegal gunrunning.  Last week Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) introduced similar legislation in the Senate.

“While President Calderon has increased efforts to thwart the northward flow of drugs to the U.S., Congress must take steps to stop the southward flow of the firearms that supply these criminal organizations and fuel their infiltration,” said Congressman Cuellar, who is the Chairman of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emergency Communications, Preparedness, and Response. “Increasing the enforcement resources available to ATF will allow this agency to work together with the DEA to reduce the trafficking of guns and drugs that plague our border communities.”

“We must stop this vicious cycle of guns being smuggled across the border to arm drug cartels who then use those weapons in border communities and against our law enforcement agents,” said Rodriguez.  “Cracking down on the illegal trafficking of guns into Mexico from the U.S. will save lives, reduce violence in border communities, and make it harder for the drug cartels to arm themselves.”

The bill would authorize $15 million in fiscal years 2009 and 2010 to expand the U.S. Department of Justice’s Project Gunrunner Initiative, ATF's southwest border initiative to deprive drug traffickers of firearms and reduce firearms-related violence on both sides of the border.

The funding would enable the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) to hire, train and deploy an additional 80 special agents, enough for at least seven more Project Gunrunner Teams in the border region to investigate and help prosecute individuals that traffic weapons into Mexico. 

The bill also authorizes $9.5 million in fiscal years 2009 and 2010 to enhance cooperation between the United States and Mexico.  This funding would allow ATF to assign an additional 12 agents to consulates in Mexico to support Mexico’s efforts to trace seized weapons and to train Mexican law enforcement officials in anti-trafficking investigative techniques. 

According to the ATF, most of the firearms violence in Mexico is perpetrated by drug traffickers who are vying for control of drug trafficking routes to the United States and engaging in turf battles for disputed distribution territories.

Congressman Henry Cuellar is a member of the House Homeland Security, Small Business,
and Agriculture Committees in the 110th Congress.  Accessibility to constituents, education, health care and economic development are his priorities.



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